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'just awful' Phibsborough locals say 'buy-to-rent is cartel sponsored by government'

Anger as 205-bed Phibsboro apartment scheme gets the nod but all will be for rent

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Val Cassidy of the Cross Guns Campaign Group outside his home

Val Cassidy of the Cross Guns Campaign Group outside his home

Val Cassidy of the Cross Guns Campaign Group outside his home

Phibsborough is set for a build-to-rent (BTR) development after An Bord Pleanála gave it the green light.

Developers have plans for 205 apartments on the now-derelict site of an old bakery on the banks of the Royal Canal.

But it has been met with opposition from locals, both on the basis of its scale and the fact that it will be rent only, and they are now seeking a judicial review of the matter.

The local groups stress they are not anti-development.

They say an application in 2014 to build a mix of apartments on the eyesore site would have been welcomed because of its size and the fact the apartments could have been bought by people who saw a future in the area.

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The site of the former bakery in Phibsborough

The site of the former bakery in Phibsborough

The site of the former bakery in Phibsborough

Val Cassidy, of the Cross Guns Campaign Group, said the BTR plan is appalling.

"The plan is all build-to-rent, with no opportunity to buy. They are mainly studio and one-bed apartments. The whole concept of build-to-rent, and people not being afforded the opportunity to buy in the area if they so choose, is just awful," he said.

"People come and rent in areas and find they like it. An apartment might come up next door or somewhere in the complex and they decide to buy that," he added, saying that would not be able to happen in the context of the BTR development.

Many critics of the BTR model say it creates a more transient community because people are more inclined to move in and out, but Mr Cassidy says the word 'transient' can be an unfair label.

"People are being labelled with this 'transient' word where you can point at someone and say, 'OK, you're from a generation that can't afford to buy your own house', and I can see how that's insulting to somebody," he said.

"What we're looking at really is a developer and An Bord Pleanála getting together and hatching a plan to stuff more people in, in order to get more profits out for an investment fund. We're looking at fixed rents, they'll never go down, and no opportunity to buy.

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"It's a Government-sponsored cartel aimed at copper-fastening profits for an investment fund off the backs of hard-pressed renters.

"We are on the side of renters. We are not objecting to having something there.

"We're fundraising for a judicial review at the moment. We lodged objections but they were pretty much dismissed by the Bord. It was rubber-stamped and approved.

"It seems completely arbitrary. They are throwing out SHD planning applications on the same grounds that we are objecting on.

"This BTR is really manipulating the market in such a way that everybody is excluded from it. The Government is sponsoring this, and it is a cartel. It's manipulation of the prices of the rental market."

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